Mass graves uncovered as retreating neo-Nazis terrorize southeastern Ukraine
Sept. 30 — Four mass graves have been discovered around Nyzhnia Krynka village, near the town of Makeeva in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The latest one came to light Sept. 28.
The graves were uncovered by the Donetsk people’s militias based on tips from local residents. Nyzhnia Krynka was recently liberated from the Azov Battalion of the National Guard, a unit serving the Ukrainian junta of neoliberal politicians, oligarchs and neo-Nazis.
“Another grave was discovered,” Donetsk First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin told the ITAR-TASS news agency on Sept. 28. “How many victims and how they died will be established during the exhumation.”
Earlier, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, co-sponsor with Russia of a cease-fire agreement between Kiev and the independent Donbass republics, confirmed the existence of three mass graves, including two in an abandoned mine and one in the village.
International experts from France and Russia are examining these sites, first uncovered on Sept. 23, two days after Kiev’s forces withdrew.
RT reporter Maria Fimoshima visited two them. At one, chief medical examiner Konstantin Gerasimenko told her, “All four victims — they are all male — have multiple gunshot wounds to head and body. Their hands were taped behind their backs. Some of them were only in their underwear.”
One of the victims was Nikita Kolomiytsev, a 21-year-old local resident. His mother, Galina, told RT: “The Ukrainian army took him away. … My husband went there and told them, ‘Take me instead of my son.’ But they said they had taken him for a further prisoner swap.”
Russia has called on the United Nations and other international bodies to open an investigation of these war crimes.
Junta sabotages prisoner exchange
A key provision of the controversial cease-fire pact is the 1-for-1 exchange of prisoners of war between the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
However, the people’s republics say the Ukrainian authorities are deliberately trying to sabotage the prisoner exchange. While the Donbass republics have exchanged actual POWs, and agreed to accept political prisoners detained by the junta in exchange, many of those sent by Kiev are civilians with no direct connection to the war, swept up in dragnets to fill out the list.
On Sept. 24, the New York Times published a rare article critical of the junta, “Ukraine picks motley group to exchange for prisoners.” While repeating the standard U.S. lies about Russian military intervention and mislabeling all opponents of the Kiev junta as “pro-Russian separatists,” the article also quotes several civilians who were falsely used in the prisoner exchange.
“I am a civilian and I was included just to fill out the numbers,” 17-year-old Nikita Podikov told the Times. He was kidnapped by retreating Ukrainian soldiers two weeks earlier. “They arrested me, beat me for two days and then kept me for trading.”
“On Sunday,” the Times noted, “he wound up in a prisoner swap of 27 men and one woman, only seven of whom were rebel fighters.”
So far the uneven prisoner swaps have continued, most recently on Sept. 28. In light of the grisly discoveries in Nyzhnia Krynka, many in Donbass are wondering about the true fate of captured militia fighters.
Neo-Nazis rampage in Kharkov, Odessa
After their ignominious defeat by the Donbass militias, the fleeing battalions of the Ukrainian National Guard — actually fascist gangs in uniform — have flooded cities of southeastern Ukraine in recent days, spreading terror among the primarily Russian-speaking population.
The city of Kharkov, a stronghold of anti-fascist, anti-coup protests earlier this year, is now under siege by Kiev’s armed forces.
A peace march called by the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) there was brutally repressed on Sept. 27 by fascists, with the aid of police. Local officials and far-right Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had banned the march. At least 23 activists were arrested, including Alla Alexander, first secretary of the Kharkov KPU, and communist flags and leaflets were burned. (UkraineAntiFascistSolidarity.wordpress.com)
Then on Sept. 28, the emboldened Nazis — including members of the Azov Battalion, the Svoboda party and the Social-Nationalist Assembly — destroyed Ukraine’s largest monument of Soviet communist leader V.I. Lenin, at Kharkov’s Freedom Square. Several local residents who attempted to stop the vandalism were beaten bloody by the fascists, including one man who reportedly later died in the hospital.
The next day, hundreds of angry Kharkov residents gathered on the square, bringing flowers to the pedestal where Lenin’s statue had stood and starting to remove Nazi graffiti. In the evening, though, the fascists returned, scattering the flowers and beating people on the square.
The independent newspaper Verb reported Sept. 30 that National Guard units “now drive armored cars with machine gunners. They patrol the central streets of Kharkov, terrorizing civilians.”
The same day, a man’s body was found crucified in a local churchyard. Local activists told Verb they believed it was the work of the Nazi gangs.
In the port city of Odessa, a similar rampage by neo-Nazis led to the deaths of at least 48 anti-fascists on May 2. On Sept. 30, two moderate opposition politicians — Nestor Shufrich and Nikolai Skorik — were attacked and beaten bloody by fascist goons outside the Regional State Administration as they tried to hold a press conference, according to the Odessa newspaper Timer. Shufrich, who participated in an advisory capacity in the cease-fire negotiations, was hospitalized with a concussion and broken nose.
Today the fascists, furious at their military defeat by the people of Donbass, are striking out in anger and desperation. But their time is fast running out. The opposition to Washington’s coup regime and its neo-Nazi enforcers has been temporarily forced underground, but will grow stronger as winter sets in and austerity measures demanded by Western banks bite deep into the working class.
The future was seen in the actions of an elderly man who scaled the pedestal of the toppled monument in Kharkov Sept. 30. Under the inscription “Lenin,” he painted a single word of hope: “ALIVE.”